Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 23rd 2014 Contents A51
November 23, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Being a West Indies sports fan, especially cricket
fan, is a difficult, sometimes depressing, sometimes
enjoyable, pastime. Long before I was an interna-
tional cricketer, I was a fan, listening to cricket in
the middle of the night from Australia, on short-
wave radios as big as a 19-inch televisions.
Not players, not administrators, excluding broad-
casters, sports fans are the best. Being awake late at
night and early mornings take its toll, but missing
cricket worldwide would be worse. My first listening
gig, aged eight, was Australia versus West Indies
1960/1, the series everyone remembers that included
the first tied Test.
In primary and high school, we played every game
there was - cricket, football, hockey, table tennis,
athletics, swimming, netball, basketball, volleyball.
Thus we became sports fans.
Sports was and mostly still is, about enjoyment.
We still managed to complete high school assignments.
When playing cricket back then, I was either Charlie
Griffith (Barbados) or Conrad Hunte (Barbados), then
WI Test players. For football, I was always "The
Kaiser", Franz Beckenbauer of Germany. As especially
a young fan, you always tried to imitate your idols.
In 1965, a poor country boy from the same village,
Unity-Lancaster, as present WI cricketer Shivnarine
Chanderpaul, whose father and uncle were wicket-
keepers for our village cricket teams, I could not
afford to pay to get into Georgetown Cricket
Club/Bourda Cricket Ground, to see my first Test
match ever between WI and Australia.
So, I jumped over the fence that separated the
Georgetown Football Club and Bourda, as the trees
surrounding the cricket ground were already over-
full with people. The year 1970 was my first exposure
to World Cup football, when that magnificent Brazil
team, including Pele, Rivelino, Jairzinho and Carlos
Alberto, beat Italy 4-1 in the final at Azteca Stadium
in Mexico, listening to commentary for that match
in Spanish. At least I knew when goals were scored!
Best soccer team ever---Brazil 1970.
By 1971, I was playing Under-19 cricket for Guyana,
but still had to be at Bourda by 2 am -- you remember
those days -- to get in to see WI play India. That was
not dedication. That was the real cricket fan in me!
That year also, Joe Frazer beat Muhammad Ali in
their first encounter. As a massive Ali fan, I cried.
In 1975, WI won the first World Cup, beating Aus-
tralia in final (9 pm in UK). I was studying navigation
and Air Traffic Control in T&T, but all school work
was forgotten; all West Indians listening to that too.
In 1978, while playing for Guyana, having already
played for WI, even Man of Series 1977 versus Pak-
istan, when at Queen s Park Oval, with dirty clothes
on at Day 1, T&T against Guyana, "Mikey", a little
man with a massive voice shouted, above 10,000
voices: "Hey Croft, in Trinidad, we does play cricket
Caribbean fans; everyone has an opinion, everyone
is an expert. ou simply have to like them. Queens
Park Oval was the scariest cricket ground then some
30,000 people. Do not screw up there!
World Series Cricket 1978, Australian fans extremely
noisy and abusive when we wore pink clothes. Some
40,000 at Sydney Cricket Ground, nearly 100,000
at Melbourne Cricket Ground; most scary too!
The following year, I played in World Cup final at
Lords; got that last wicket too when WI defended
as champions, beating England. Thousands ran on
to the ground. I am not sure how I got to the pavilion.
That was the best achievement in my life, rating
after becoming a father twice.
In 1981, the first ODI in St Vincent, everyone in
that country were at that game. Crazy stuff, but we
managed to win too, after making just 127 in a 50-
Football World Cup in 1994, living in USA, ESPN
were innovative with coverage, superimposing games
in a square cocoon, with continuous football on-going,
while advertising was shown on edges. Brilliant!
England in Champions Trophy, Kennington Oval in
London, courtesy of Courtney Browne and Ian Brad-
shaw, who brought home Brian Lara s WI team, after
it looked as if we could lose.
For Fifa World Cup South Africa 2010, what I
remember most from that tournament were the fab-
ulous, melodious noisy vuvuzealas and how much
the fans enjoyed themselves there.
West Indies winning World T-20 in Sri Lanka in
2012, beating the home team in the final, with Dwayne
Bravo, Chris Gayle and Darren Sammy celebrating
massively with Gangnam Style dancing!
In 2014, I saw every game from Fifa World Cup
in Brazil. What a show! Everyone wanted to be there,
most in Brazil to enjoy the games for the occasion,
not always for winning or losing.
Cricket, not the University of West Indies, not
politics, not even carnival but cricket, is the only
aspect of Caribbean life that is totally all-encom-
passing. It is the only thing that everyone has an
Being a WI cricket fan could kill you with stress,
so fluctuating are fortunes, but I will forever be a
sports fan, with ICC Cricket World Cup coming next
year and Olympics Games in Brazil in 2016. More
Fans are special to sports
COLIN EH CROFT
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